new age spirituality

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Mrs. Piper & the Society for Psychical Research by Michael Sage

XII William Stainton Moses--What George Pelham thinks of him--How Imperator and his assistants have replaced Phinuit.

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For those of my readers who are unacquainted with spiritualist literature, and in order to facilitate the understanding of what follows, I must give a short sketch of the life of the English medium, William Stainton Moses. He was born in 1839, and died in 1892. He studied at Oxford, and was then curate at Maughold, near Ramsey, in the Isle of Man. His great kindness made him beloved by all his parishioners there. When an epidemic of smallpox drove even the doctors away, he remained faithfully at his post, caring for bodies and comforting souls. But he had precarious health, and was overworked at Maughold. He obtained another curacy, where there was less work, at Saint George's, Douglas, also in the Isle of Man. It was at Douglas that the friendship, broken only by death, was formed between him and Dr Stanhope Speer. A throat-affection soon after prevented his preaching, and he left the service of the Church to give himself up to teaching. He went to London, where he became tutor to the son of Dr Stanhope Speer, who was living there. Finally, at the beginning of 1871, he obtained a mastership in University College School, and there he remained till 1889.

Till 1872 William Stainton Moses knew nothing of spiritualism. If he had vaguely heard of it, he had no doubt hastened to condemn the new superstition which carried off sheep from his flock.

However, in 1872, Mrs Speer, being ill and confined to her room, read Dale Owen's book, _The Debatable Land_. The book interested her, and she asked Stainton Moses to read it. He did so, but only to please his friend's wife. Nevertheless he became curious to know how much truth there might be in the matter. He visited mediums, and took Dr Speer with him, and both were soon convinced that here was a new force.

It was at the time when spiritualistic phenomena were attracting much attention in the United States and England, and when learned bodies were appealed to from all sides to put an end to these phantasmagoria. It was the period when the materialised apparition of Katie King appeared and talked to numerous spectators who came from widely separated places. Sir William Crookes could see her and photograph her as much as he pleased; heedless of his environment, he published what seemed to him the truth.

Thereupon the man whose brain had till then been considered one of the most lucid and best organised which humanity has produced, lost considerably in the opinion of his contemporaries. But no doubt the future will avenge him.

The Speer family and Stainton Moses now began to hold sittings by themselves. Stainton Moses[74] at once showed himself to be an extraordinarily powerful medium. Neither he nor anybody else had suspected this mediumship till now. Many other mediumships have been revealed in the same way, suddenly, by experiment. This shows that faculties, valuable for the study of these disturbing problems, may exist in some of us who least expect it.

The physical phenomena which occurred in the presence of Stainton Moses were numerous and varied.

These phenomena cannot be due to the subconsciousness of Stainton Moses, and they seem to point to external intervention more clearly than do the communications he has left us. The best known of these communications is entitled _Spirit Teachings_. It is a long dialogue between self-styled disincarnated spirits and Stainton Moses. Stainton Moses also wrote automatically without being entranced. _Spirit Teachings_, among other things, was obtained in this way. The medium is still saturated with his theological education; he discusses, he cavils, and his spirit-guides show him the absurdity of a great part of his beliefs. We know that his robust faith began to be shaken by doubt about the time when his mediumship revealed itself. If we left the above-mentioned phenomena out of consideration, we might not unreasonably be tempted to see in these dialogues only a doubling of personality; on one hand the personality of the clergyman defending his doctrines foot by foot, on the other hand the personality of the reasoning man formulating his own objections to them.